The London-born winger hailed from a modest London neighbourhood and learned his football skills on the street.
He isn’t sure how his teenage years might have panned out had he not been spotted in a local tournament.
“Football, especially in the area we grew up, kept us out of a lot of trouble,” said Wright-Phillips, speaking exclusively in the new City+ ‘Shaun Wright-Phillips: City's Homegrown Hero’ feature.
“I was doing OK in my team and we were at a six-a-side competition and there was a scout there from Nottingham Forest called Kieron Rafferty.
“He said he wanted to take me on trial at Nottingham Forest.
“So I went up to Nottingham and they liked what they saw at the time and offered me a schoolboy contract, but when it came time to move on to a Youth Training Scheme, they said I was too small and let me go.
“I didn’t really know how to take it and it was my first mental challenge that I was up against.
“I think I was lucky I had my family and good friends around me and a scout who really believed in what I could do.
“I knew that whatever you want in life, you have to work hard for it and I got that from my mum and how she was.
“Not long after, the same scout that had signed me at Nottingham Forest told me that Manchester City wanted to give me a trial and I said ‘yeah, definitely’.
“I wanted to be away from London because I felt there were too many distractions growing up with my friends, cousins and stuff and wanting to go out all the time and I needed to focus.
“The next thing I knew, I was signing for City the season we were relegated to Division Two.”
Wright-Phillips quickly gained the attention of manager Joe Royle and then Kevin Keegan as City yo-yoed between divisions, but the one thing that struck the diminutive teenager was the loyalty and passion of the fans.
And the 18-year-old was soon handed his debut and quickly had an army of new admirers who loved his all-action, committed and thrilling brand of football.
“I noticed quickly that wherever City played, the fans were always there and the games were sold out,” he said.
“There was a hardcore of 35,000 people who were always there behind us, believing in us and wanting for us to push on and do well no matter who we played or which division we were in.
“I thought that if I worked hard and learned, it would be a great place for me to play football.
“Then I was called up to the bench for a game against Port Vale and everything was just a rollercoaster after that.
“It’s great to have fans behind you that understand you can have a bad game every now and then and you’re not a robot and the City fans were always like that and supported me from day one.”
Watch ‘Shaun Wright-Phillips: City's Homegrown Hero’ on City+ now where he reveals what happened during the Keegan years, his unforgettable goal against United and his return after leaving for Chelsea…
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